12.17.18

[VIDEO] Sen. Coons on GOP colleagues: “Quietly, the vast majority of them say it's not a witch hunt”

Sen. Coons: “The only person who is on TV and on Twitter saying they would be proud to shut the government down is our president” 

Sen. Coons: Trump sounds “more like a mob boss than president of the United States” 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined CNN New Day.

“For the millions of people who follow closely what President Trump has to say on Twitter every day, the idea that the FBI broke into his attorney's office runs right up against the foundation of our law, which is the FBI was executing a duly authorized warrant. Law enforcement, federal, state, local law enforcement doesn't just break into people's offices. They were executing a warrant issued with the approval of a judge. This is part of how investigations work. His use of the term "Rat" for Michael Cohen and mischaracterizing this as a break-in to his attorney's office frankly makes him sound more like a mob boss than president of the United States,” said Senator Coons.

“The only person who is on TV and on Twitter saying they would be proud to shut the government down is our president. I'm confident that leadership, Republican and Democrat, House and Senate, we want to finish our appropriations bills and want to go home. We don't want to see a government shutdown. But, in a fairly famous exchange at the White House the president said I'm willing to shut the government down over getting my wall. They haven't spent the money that was appropriated last fiscal year,” said Senator Coons.

Video and audio available here.

Excerpts from the interview are below: 

Sen. Coons on President Trump’s tweets: The president is clearly going after the rule of law and our criminal justice system and he's undermining it. For the millions of people who follow closely what President Trump has to say on Twitter every day, the idea that the FBI broke into his attorney's office runs right up against the foundation of our law, which is the FBI was executing a duly authorized warrant. Law enforcement, federal, state, local law enforcement doesn't just break into people's offices. They were executing a warrant issued with the approval of a judge. This is part of how investigations work. His use of the term "Rat" for Michael Cohen and mischaracterizing this as a break-in to his attorney's office frankly makes him sound more like a mob boss than president of the United States.  

More on the President: This is not good, not healthy for law enforcement. Law enforcement doesn’t want to be dragged into partisan politics. They’re just going to keep doing their job. I’m the co-chair of the Law Enforcement Caucus in the Senate. I have enormous respect for what federal law enforcement has to do each and every day. This is just another disheartening chapter in the president's attempts to mislead the American people about Mueller's investigation.

Sen. Coons on his Republican colleagues: Sadly, silent, most of them. There are a few, who every time there’s a tweet like this, step forward saying that the Mueller investigation has to be protected. Mueller is executing an appropriate investigation. Quietly, the vast majority of them say it's not a witch hunt. We're going to take steps to protect it. This week, Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona will, once again, join me on the floor of the Senate, asking for a vote on our Mueller protection bill. And I'm sadly confident it will get blocked and it won't get a vote as it should. 

More on Republicans: I can't speak for them. But I’ll tell you, when we have private conversations most of my colleagues recognize this is not healthy, not good. But they're so happy with what they're getting out of the Trump administration in terms of tax cuts, deregulation, attacks on the Affordable Care Act and Obamacare, two new justices to the Supreme Court, that they're willing to let him, as they say, just ramble on, on Twitter. They pay attention to the policy accomplishments not to the Twitter statements. I think having the president of the United States say and do things like this on Twitter is fundamentally corrosive to the rule of law in our country.

Sen. Coons on criminal justice reform: Yes, this afternoon in the Senate, we'll take up and I believe pass the First Step Act, which has important sentencing revisions in it as well. This is a bipartisan effort that I've been part of for three congresses now. There are real leaders in the Republican and Democratic caucus who’ve pushed this over the finish line. President Trump has said he will sign it. Unfortunately, we've seen this movie before where the president commits to signing something important like immigration reform and then changes his mind. I think we should take this particular deal, get it through the Senate, hope the president will sign it before Christmas and this will be a heck of a holiday gift for thousands of families who will see family members who have served long, long sentences released early. 

Sen. Coons on Obamacare: This is the opportunity for Republicans in the Senate to show they mean what they say that they want to protect pre-existing conditions and that they want to work across the aisle to fix and stabilize parts of the Affordable Care Act that are now widely popular. I remain hopeful even though there hasn't been any movement in that direction for this Congress. It's going to be a tough issue for the Republicans facing the electorate in 2020. The Affordable Care Act, in particular its protections that allow young people under 26 to stay on their parents' health care, the closing of the so-called donut hole that reduced prescription drug costs for seniors and the pre-existing condition protection. Those are very popular. So much so that governors and senators who ran against Obamacare, who participated in this lawsuit ran in the last few weeks of the 2018 election claiming, without foundation that they, in fact, were trying to protect pre-existing conditions.

Sen. Coons on whether the government will shut down: I have no idea. The only person who is on TV and on Twitter saying they would be proud to shut the government down is our president. I'm confident that leadership, Republican and Democrat, House and Senate, we want to finish our appropriations bills and want to go home. We don't want to see a government shutdown. But, in a fairly famous exchange at the White House the president said I'm willing to shut the government down over getting my wall. They haven't spent the money that was appropriated last fiscal year.  

More on the wall: They've spent money on some models and studies and they have obligated the money, but it's not as if they built 100 or 200 miles of wall in the last year. There's a number of problems, a simple one for folks to understand is that the vast majority of the land on which President Trump's imaginative concrete ribbon wall would be built is privately owned and a lot of those land owners are not volunteering to come forward to have a wall put at the end of their property. It would take a lot of time and effort to get permissions, legal authority to put this wall on a lot of places that it doesn’t exist. There are already 700 miles of border fencing and border wall in some of the areas where there's the most active crossing. A lot of this very long border is extremely remote, far out in the desert, in very rugged areas, mountainous areas, I've heard from both CDP and DHS, the homeland security and customs and border patrol folks, that a single, ribbon, concrete wall is just a foolish way to spend money, and there are other, smarter ways to invest in border security. I have voted, as has almost every Democrat, to invest in border security but this isn't the way to do it. 

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Press Contact

Sean Coit at 202-224-5042 or Sean_Coit@coons.senate.gov